Antoinette Hannent (Black Anna)


An image of Jolly Butchers public house, Ber Street, Norwich, the licensee Antoinette Hannent (Black Anna) with American service people. Picture Norfolk - NP00016246 Publication prohibited without the permission of M.Bartle

Jolly Butchers public house, Ber Street, Norwich, the licensee Antoinette Hannent (Black Anna) with American service people. Picture Norfolk – NP00016246
Publication prohibited without the permission of M.Bartle

Antoinette (Antonetto Carrara), better known by her nickname ‘Black Anna’, was born in Ber Street, Norwich, of Italian descent. She married Kenneth Jack Hannent, who became landlord of The Jolly Butchers in September 1935 (Jack was probably the son of Alfred Hannent, landlord of the nearby Pheasant Cock, as listed in 1890). By April 1947, Kenneth had died. Anna then ran the pub until May 1976 – possibly until her death. She was particularly considerate of her many homosexual customers, in the days when the law was stacked against them. The fact that she also ran the last Common Lodging House in the City (“doss-house”), which was of much benefit to the local Police (in relieving the pressure on their cells), may have had much to do with the sense of security felt by the gay community. Of course, and in turn, it was much to do with the success of the pub business.

Anna was well-known for jazz singing. She had a deep, throaty singing voice and during the Second World War became very interested in blues and jazz songs that she learnt from visiting American servicemen. Her reputation as singer spread and the pub became a magnet for visiting celebrities and jazz fans. She was an admirer of the American singer Sophie Tucker and was dubbed ‘the English Sophie Tucker’ by her fans. The jazz singing remained the greatest draw for her customers.

Find out more: You can hear reminiscences about Anna and The Jolly Butchers in the Norfolk Sound Archive and online – NRO, SAC 2003/3/1137. Images of Anna and The Jolly Butchers can be viewed on the Picture Norfolk website here. You can also read many newspaper accounts of Anna in the Norfolk Heritage Centre

Eastern Evening News 26/6/1954 “Ann, of the Jolly Butchers, is popular singer” Short article about her singing, with photo

EDP 4/5/1976 “Death of Ber Street’s Black Anna” Obituary

Eastern Evening News 20/5/1976 “Question mark hangs over Anna’s pub” Short article about fate of pub following Anna’s death

Eastern Evening News 10/5/1977 “Memory of Black Anna – the English Sophie” Recollections by her daughter

Eastern Evening News 26/2/1980 “Black Anna gallery” Short article about landlord’s plan to collect pictures of the famous landlady to display in the pub

Evening News 11/8/1989 “Black Anna tape may aid old pub”
Report of existence of tape recordings of Anna singing, with suggestion they might be used in the campaign to keep the pub open

EDP 18/1/1990 “Plea to retain city pub rejected.” Report of approval for pub to be converted into offices

Evening News 20/3/1996 “Search on for Anna’s record” Appeal for a copy of the record made of Anna singing, so that it could be played on Radio Norfolk

Evening News 5/4/1996 “Ale and hearty!” Memories of Black Anna and details of where copies of the tape of her singing may be obtained

Evening News 13/12/2005 “Remembering a legend” Article recording the blue plaque being installed on the building which was once The Jolly Butchers pub, with biographical information

6 Responses to Antoinette Hannent (Black Anna)

  1. Angela lubbock says:

    Some of the happiest times of my life listening to black Anna with my us and sister and brother in law (deceased)

  2. John Palmer says:

    Black Anna was dubbed by some as “The English Sophie Tucker” despite being of Italian heritage. Where’s Sophie Lindsay Hammerton, aka Little Red?

  3. Martin Stone says:

    She use to make and sell the best ice cream from her shop next the jolly butchers on Ber street in the fifties,.

  4. Kate Phillips says:

    I used to work there (The Jolly Butchers) back in the 80’s. Quite an atmosphere and nobody wanted to go in the “club” room at the back to get ice. I was doing my shift one evening and a whole optics firmly screwed to the wall just suddenly crashed to the floor. We were just all staring at it and at each other open mouthed. Lucky I wasn’t hurt.

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